Monday, April 30, 2012

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs

Whenever someone mentions deviled eggs I immediately think of my Grandma Margaret. If she is coming to your party you can count on her to bring deviled eggs. And yes, be excited because they are some tasty deviled eggs! She has mastered the dish. Maybe it's her expertise and experience, but really I think its Grandma's special touch that makes them so delicious. I hope she brings them over next time I visit home, and it'd be even better if they were presented on one of those special plates with the egg imprints to keep them in place. I really gotta get me one of those...

I think I've just decided that deviled eggs are going to be my new 'go-to' appetizer. Maybe it's because they are so simple, inexpensive, and finger-licking good...or maybe it's because someday I hope my grandchildren will want me to bring them deviled eggs...

Deviled Eggs
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 dozen eggs
3 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

Hard boil the eggs: Fill up a large saucepan half-way with water and gently add eggs. Cover the eggs with at least an inch of water. Bring water to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit covered for 12 minutes. Drain hot water from pan and run cold water over the eggs. (At this point if you crack the egg shells while eggs are still cooling, it will make it easier to peel the shells.) Let sit in cool water a few minutes, changing water if necessary to keep cool.

Peel eggs. Using a sharp knife, slice each egg in half, lengthwise. Gently remove the yolk halves and place in a small mixing bowl. Arrange the egg whites on a serving platter. Use a fork to mash the yolks and mix in mustard, mayonnaise and salt/pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into egg whites and sprinkle with paprika.

Thank you Scott for helping me make these!

    Saturday, April 28, 2012

    Bailey's Ice Cream Cake

    Bailey's Ice Cream Cake

    It was my 21st birthday on Thursday! Happy Birthday to me! When I first announced to my friends that I was going to make myself a cake they were horrified. "You can't make your own birthday cake!" I had to convince them multiple times that making my own cake would be my birthday present to myself. And indeed it was!

    This cake was beyond easy to make and is probably one of the best cakes I have ever had. Honestly, I used to hate cake. When I was little I would dread the cake portion of birthdays...the exorbitant amounts of icky store bought frosting did not appeal to me. Plus it usually ended up turning your mouth some crazy color. When I had a birthday I would always make sure my parents bought me an ice cream cake. I decided this birthday would be a good one to bring back my childhood love of ice cream cakes! Especially since now I can add alcohol to it... 

    Bailey's Ice Cream Cake

    1 quart of your favorite vanilla ice cream
    1 pack of oreos
    1/2 cup raisins soaked in Bailey's for a few days
    1 box of brownie mix (along with 2 eggs, water and oil)

    Make brownie mix and pour about half the batter into the bottom of a greased 8" or 9" spring form cake pan (or until batter covers entire bottom of pan). Pour rest of batter into another baking dish and bake according to package instructions. This will only take about 20 minutes though because of the thinner layer of brownie. Set aside and let cool COMPLETELY.

    Put ice cream in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes to thaw. Crush oreos and crumble extra brownies. In a large bowl, mix ice cream, oreos, brownies, and raisins together. Pour into spring form pan over the brownie base. Place in the freezer for about 4-5 hours. To serve you can put chocolate shavings on cake and drizzle with extra Bailey's. 

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Baked Zucchini and Tomatoes

    Baked Zucchini and Tomatoes

    Wow it has taken me so long to get a post up! That has not stopped me from cooking though! I made this side dish the other night for myself and ate the whole thing in under 30 seconds. It was so good that I almost burned my mouth.

    This recipe is super simple but so tasty! It will impress any guest with its vibrant colors and elegance. But trust me it looks WAY fancier than the effort it takes. 

    Baked Zucchini and Tomatoes

    4 Medium Zucchini
    4 Roma Tomatoes
    Olive oil
    Dried Oregano
    Dried Basil
    Shredded Parmesan Cheese

    Layer sliced zucchini and tomatoes (alternating) in 9x13 pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle oregano and basil over top. Bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese halfway through baking time.

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Cranberry Oat Banana Bread

    Cranberry Oat Banana Bread

    Looking to use up those overripe bananas but don’t want to make boring old banana bread? Add some cranberries! Although this recipe at first glance seems quite similar to banana bread, the cranberries really add a twist! Their juicy, tanginess is a nice contrast to the simple, smooth banana base.

    Let me warn you that this bread is highly addictive. I think quick breads are slowly becoming my form of crack cocaine. In some extreme cases (such as mine) it may be necessary to implement an intervention. Thank goodness I had my roommate to save me from consuming it all by myself! Although she did help make it…so she could be a conspirator too…

    Cranberry Oat Banana Bread
    Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup rolled oats, plus 1 handful for topping
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/3 cup buttermilk
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon lemon zest
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated white sugar
    1 cup smashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)
    1 1/2 cup cranberries

    Pre-heat oven to 325˚F. Lightly grease a 9x5-inch pan. In a medium bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a measuring cup, measure out the buttermilk. To the buttermilk, add the vegetable oil and vanilla extract and mix until combined. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, light brown sugar and white sugar together until thick and pale, approximately 3-5 minutes. Mix in smashed banana and buttermilk mixture. In two batches, add flour mixture, mixing until just combined, being sure not to overmix. Fold in cranberries and transfer batter to prepared loaf pan. Top with a handful of rolled oats. Bake quick bread for 1 hour, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Invert bread onto a rack to cool. Cranberry Oatmeal Banana Bread will be moist up to 3-4 days. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to preserve its freshness.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

    Easy Peasy Potato Soup

    Easy Peasy Potato Soup

    If you're bored on a Friday night what do you usually do??? Make potato soup! Duh! 

    This is seriously one of the simplest recipes I've ever made. A cool feature of this recipe is that it is set up in such a way that it's easily adjustable to the amount of people you are serving. Plus it's super inexpensive, filling, and makes great leftovers.  

    Easy Peasy Potato Soup

    1 medium potato, cubed (per person)
    1/4 cup carrot, chopped (per person)
    1/4 cup celery, chopped (per person)
    1/3 cup onion, chopped (per person)
    Parsley, chopped (to taste)
    Salt and pepper (to taste)
    Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

    Mix all vegetables in a large pot. Fill pot with water to just below the level of vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove pot from heat and mash mixture until chunky. Add parsley, salt, pepper, and cheese to taste. 

    Note: Add milk to thicken.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies

    Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies

    I swear that peanut butter is one of those divine gifts from God. And yet, like most things, is taken for granted and not fully appreciated! I've made it one of my goals to show peanut butter how much I appreciate it by making it famous through this blog. This recipe features one of the many, versatile forms of this glorious substance.

    I might love chocolate just as much as I love peanut butter. I know what you're saying, I can't love peanut butter 100% and still love chocolate 100%. But it's true I do. So yes, it's possible. Chocolate, like peanut butter, takes many forms and can be paired with pretty much anything. But when chocolate and peanut butter team up, WATCH OUT. This is a combination no one can match. 

    Peanut Butter Chip Chocolate Cookies

    1 cup butter
    3/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    2 tsps vanilla extract
    2 cups flour
    3/4 cup cocoa powder (i used dark)
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 heaping cup peanut butter chips
    1/2 cup chocolate chips (or you can go all the way with the peanut butter chips)

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease cookie sheets. Cream together butter and sugar. Stir in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in peanut butter and chocolate chips. Drop cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes.

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Roasted Green Beans with Cranberries and Walnuts

    Roasted Green Beans with Cranberries and Walnuts

    Today was one of those days where I just needed some good ol' fashioned comfort food. Now there are two things that usually pop into my head when I think of comfort food: lots of calories, and Thanksgiving. Now, considering the title of this blog I decided to go the Thanksgiving route, cause we want to live beautifully right?! 

    I think it's rather silly actually that comfort foods have to have so many calories. I mean, you're usually eating it to make you feel better...right? Well, whenever I eat a whole cake by myself (and yes this has happened) I don't necessarily feel better afterwards. Usually I'd describe my feelings as being sick and/or guilty. So with that I've made a healthy alternative comfort food that made me oh so happy without all those extra pounds or negative feelings.

    Roasted Green Beans with Cranberries and Walnuts
    Adapted from Once Upon a Chef

    1 pound fresh green beans, stem ends trimmed
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1 tsp lemon zest
    2 tsps lemon juice
    1/3 cup dried cranberries
    1/3 cup walnuts (toasted if desired)

    Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss green beans with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper directly on baking sheet. Roast beans for 15 minutes, then stir with a spatula to promote even cooking. Add lemon zest, juice, cranberries and walnuts and roast for another 10 minutes. Toss well and add more salt, pepper, and lemon juice if desired.

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    Sweet Potato and Chickpea Hash

    Sweet Potato and Chickpea Hash

    I just love any excuse I can get to make food. Making food for myself is one thing, but making it for other people is exponentially more enjoyable. Not only is the pressure on to make something delicious, but it is so satisfying to make other people happy and full in the process. Anyway, I got to make this colorful dish for our Easter potluck! 

    I guess it doesn't really seem like an "Easter" sort of dish...but I made it anyway! I guess I always think of Easter as a brunch kind of holiday, and that's how I justified making it. Plus I've been kind of obsessed with sweet potatoes lately and I'm trying to incorporate them in as many ways into my diet as possible. 

    Sweet Potato and Chickpea Hash
    Adapted from Once Upon a Cutting Board

    2 medium/large sweet potatoes, diced
    1-2 tablespoons olive oil
    3/4 a medium yellow onion, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 large zucchini, chopped (about 1 cup)
    1 medium red bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
    1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    Large pinch each of smoked paprika, salt, and pepper (and other seasonings if desired)

    Add diced sweet potato to a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and leave aside.
    Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the chopped onion, garlic, zucchini, red pepper, and chickpeas (I didn’t have a pan quite big enough to fit everything, so I split everything into two pans). Cook 5-10 minutes until starting to brown, stirring often.
    Transfer vegetables to a bowl, wipe out the pan and add a bit more oil. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan and spread out in a single layer. Let cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, or until browned on one side. Flip and cook another 3-5 minutes. Repeat a couple more times until all sides are lightly browned.
    Add the vegetables back to the pan and toss with the sweet potatoes. Add the parsley and season with paprika, salt, and pepper to taste. 

    Sunday, April 8, 2012

    Hot Cross Buns – Redefined

    Hot Cross Buns – Redefined

    Easter is simply not complete without some classic hot cross buns! These tasty little buns I daresay made a substantial impact on my childhood. Every Easter I’d look forward to this breakfast treat that my grandparents would bring over fresh out of the oven of the British Pantry. My favorite part about them was picking out the golden raisins and currants. Sometimes I’d abandon the rest of the bun just for the dried fruit! Peeling off the cross part was pretty amusing as well…

    And not only were they a great Easter morsel, but they showed up in my music beginnings! Oh the days of recorder…lets just say I’m so grateful for the upgrade to bassoon. And as much as I dearly love the tune “Hot Cross Buns” it really can’t compare to a Tchaikovsky Symphony.

    I didn’t have any golden raisins or currants so I whipped up this crazy idea of putting orange zest, craisins and chocolate chips in them. So they aren’t really “traditional” but they are still delicious!

    Hot Cross Buns – Redefined
    Recipe Adapted from Eat Yourself Skinny

    3/4 cup craisins
    1/4 cup warm orange juice
    4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
    1 cup whole-wheat flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
    1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
    2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 tsp. ground nutmeg
    ¼ tsp. ground ginger
    1 package quick-rise yeast
    1 cup warm fat-free milk
    1/4 cup honey
    1/4 cup unsalted light butter, melted
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    ¾ cups chocolate chips
    Cooking spray
    1 Tbsp water
    1 large egg white

    1 cup powdered sugar
    1 Tbsp fat-free milk
    1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

    To prepare rolls, combine craisins and orange juice in a small bowl; let stand 10 minutes.  Drain fruit in a colander over a bowl, reserving craisins and juice.  Meanwhile, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup of warm water and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

    Lightly spoon 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and your 1 cup of whole wheat flour into dry measuring cups.  Combine flours, salt, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attached; mix until combined.  Combine reserved orange juice, milk, honey, butter and eggs in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  With mixer on, slowly add in milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix at medium-low speed for about 7 minutes.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and add reserved craisins and chocolate chips.

    Knead dough for about 2 minutes until smooth and elastic; add enough of the remaining 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent sticking.  Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  Punch dough down, cover and let rest for 5 minutes.  Divide dough into 24 equal portions; roll each portion into a ball and place rolls in muffin cups coated with cooking spray.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until almost doubled in size.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine 1 tablespoon water and egg white and stir with a whisk.  Gently brush rolls with egg white mixture.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown, rotating pans once during baking.  Remove from pans and cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack. 

    To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of milk and 1 tsp. lemon juice, stirring well with a whisk.  Microwave on high 20 seconds or until warm.  Spoon glaze into a sealed zip-lock baggy and snip a tiny hole in one corner of the bag.  Pipe a cross on top of each warm roll.  Enjoy!

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Gooey Neapolitan Cake Bars

    Gooey Neapolitan Cake Bars

    I didn’t realize how much I missed playing with play-dough until I made this recipe. Seriously, I almost started making a turtle or a snowman out of the cake batter. This dough is FAR superior to normal, salty play-dough though. Not only does it smell good… and you can eat it too! I was having so much fun that I almost didn’t get it in the oven in time!

    I have to thank my bestie for the inspiration of the making of this recipe. It was her Junior violin recital today and I wanted to make a dessert for the reception. Her very favorite ice cream is Neapolitan, but sadly it’s not really feasible to serve ice cream at receptions…so I found this lovely recipe! On a side note, she sounded AMAZING. I’m so proud :)

    These gooey cake bars are delicious, easy, affordable, and way to much fun to make! I’m looking forward to making different combos of cake mixes for this recipe. I’m thinking lemon, strawberry, and vanilla, and maybe orange and chocolate…oh the possibilities are endless!

    Gooey Neapolitan Cake Bars
    Recipe from Picky Palate

    1 box chocolate cake mix
    1 box vanilla/white cake mix
    1 box strawberry cake mix
    3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    3 large eggs
    14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil sprayed with cooking spray.
    2. Place chocolate cake mix, a stick of butter and an egg into a large bowl, mix until combined. Press into the bottom of prepared baking pan.
    3. Place vanilla cake mix, a stick of butter and an egg into a large bowl, mix until combined. Press over chocolate cake layer.
    4. Place strawberry cake mix, a stick of butter and an egg into a large bowl, mix until combined. Press over vanilla cake layer.
    5. Drizzle 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk over strawberry layer then bake for 40-50 minutes, until center is cooked through. Let cool completely. Cut off all edges, about 1/2 inch, this makes bars look nicer, but not necessary. Cut remaining bars into squares and serve.
    Makes 12-16 servings

    Wednesday, April 4, 2012

    Zucchini Boats

    Zucchini Boats

    First off, can we just appreciate the name of this dish? It’s so adorable! Who wouldn’t want to eat these?! They’re almost too cute to eat…

    This is one of those “healthy” dishes that still leaves you feeling full and satisfied. It wasn’t until I became a vegetarian for a year that I realized that vegetables could indeed make you full! I think I like making vegetarian dishes partially because I like proving all those unyielding meat eater’s out there that veggies can be filling and delicious! Also, eating vegetarian is a lot gentler on my wallet…

    Zucchini Boats

    2 large zucchini
    ½ cup onion, chopped
    ½ Tbsp minced garlic
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 cup pinto beans
    1 medium tomato, diced
    1 tsp oregano
    ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
    salt and pepper to taste

    Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out pulp (leaving a 3/8’’ shell). Chop pulp and set aside. In a large skillet sauté onion, zucchini pulp, and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in beans, tomatoes and oregano. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, or until flavors have melded. Spoon mixture into hollowed out zucchini shells. Place zucchini boats in a greased glass baking pan and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for about 20 minutes.

    Monday, April 2, 2012

    Mint Chocolate Cookies

    Mint Chocolate Cookies

    Be forewarned, this is my first attempt at vegan baking. I was actually pleasantly surprised! I probably wouldn’t have attempted this on a regular basis…however my sweet tooth prevailed, despite my lack of eggs. And so I was off, in search of a tasty recipe that would work with my limited ingredients.

    Honestly, I quite enjoyed these. I’m just going to warn you that they aren’t like your regular gooey, buttery chocolate chip cookie. But, if you don’t have those expectations going in to making them, then you’re sure to love them. They definitely do hold there own in the health arena! Whole wheat flour, dark chocolate cocoa powder and no eggs make this a fairly healthy treat. Hope you try them out!

    Mint Chocolate Cookies
    Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

    ½ cup canola oil
    ½ cup brown sugar
    ½ cup maple syrup
    2 Tbsp milk
    2 tsps peppermint extract
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 cups whole wheat flour
    ½ cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
    ¼ tsp salt
    1 tsp baking soda
    1 tsp baking powder
    3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks

    Heat oven to 350 F. Whisk together the oil, ½ cup sugar, maple syrup, milk and extracts.  In another bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. Gently mix in the dark chocolate. Roll into Tbsp size balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a little of the additional sugar. Bake 9-10 minutes. Cool for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a rack.
    Tip: They are best the day they are baked. So, unless you're like me and want to eat them all in one day, then I'd suggest dividing the dough in half and refrigerating until you want to make the rest of them. They just tend to harden and dry a little bit after a couple days.
    Thanks bro for this last post of your beautiful pictures! I wish you could just take all the pictures for my blog! Come back to Texas!